Parental Rights Is on the Ballot; Gavin Newsom's Veto of SB 596 Proves It

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Governor Gavin Newsom is not stupid. He'd be a horrible choice as a presidential candidate, but he knows how to play the margins politically, which is what he has been doing in his veto of particular bills that, six months to a year ago, assuredly would have been part of his platform.

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Take Senate Bill 596. Another under-the-radar bill written by Democrat state Senator Anthony Portantino. Alarms were raised by a parental rights blogger in Portantino's district concerning this "parent silencing" measure.

As we see the purpose and intent of SB 596, it aims to chill free speech and intimidate parents and other concerned citizens from speaking out against school teachers, administrators and school boards and their practices and policies. If passed, the bill will almost certainly be Constitutionally challenged and will likely be struck down. The bill is unnecessary, as threats, harassment, and doxxing are already illegal under California law. There are already laws on the book that protect teachers and other public school employees from harassment.1 While the Constitutionality of the law is challenged in the courts, which will likely take years, parents will be dissuaded from speaking openly and exercising their Constitutionally protected freedom of speech when it comes to directing their child’s education. 

Portantino wanted to use his last term in the legislature to make a mark. A known gun-control zealot and a guaranteed vote in that regard, Portantino has essentially been otherwise useless. Now termed out of CalLeg, Portantino hopes his next political act will be filling Rep. Adam Schiff's congressional seat. Yet another California politician looking to fail up.

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Newsom recognized that SB 596 could hurt his presidential ambitions. California's lawsuit against the Chino Valley school district has not chilled parental activism but emboldened it.

Had Newsom signed SB 596 into law, it would have given the GOP fodder for their golden issue and tanked Newsom's latest pivot of governing from the center <insert *eyeroll* emoji>.

 Parent's rights activist Jonathan Zachreson calls it as he sees it.

In Sunday's legislative update, Newsom issued his veto of SB 596.

To the Members of the California State Senate: I am returning Senate Bill 596 without my signature. 

This bill would make it a misdemeanor to cause substantial disorder at any meeting of the governing board of a school district, the governing body of a charter school, a county board of education, or the State Board of Education. This bill also specifies that a person who subjects a school employee to threats or harassment while the employee is away from a school site or after school hours for reasons related to the employee's course of duties would be guilty of a misdemeanor. Credible threats of violence and acts of harassment -whether directed against school officials, elected officials, or members of the general public -can already be prosecuted as crimes. As such, creating a new crime is unnecessary. 

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Funny that Newsom is taking a different stance on gun control. Newsom is going beyond creating new gun control laws that keep getting struck down by the courts and has gone full bore with a rewrite of the Constitution to get rid of the Second Amendment. So, this is Greasy Gavin being slicker than his hair gel.

The tenor of our country's political conversations is alarming, leading to caustic atmospheres at local school board meetings and politicization of our kids' education in an effort to score political points. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious about exacerbating tensions by implementing additional laws that can be perceived as stifling parents' voices in the decision-making process. We don't need more gas on this fire -we need more grace, more respectful conversations, and more protection of constitutional rights for all people, especially for those with whom we disagree.

Who is this, and what did he do with California's governor?! Trying to pretend he wants to soften the tenor of discourse when he's the one running around to red states gaslighting and fanning flames of division. But, good try.

No school official should be subject to threats or harassment for doing their job, period. I encourage school officials to work closely with local law enforcement to use the laws already on the books to ensure the safety and security of our community's educators and governing board members, both while carrying out their school duties on school premises and while away from school sites. 

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The French Laundry authoritarian has spoken, and it's fully out the side of his neck. Newsom hasn't dashed the hopes of Portantino, he's saved Portantino from himself and further attempted to convince voters that he would be a leader who would govern from the center.

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